1. The French president’s girlfriend sued them in September.
Journalist Valerie Trierweiler, partner of French president Francois Hollande, announced she would sue Closer, along with two other gossip magazines, earlier this month for publishing pictures of her and Hollande in bathing suits at a presidential retreat. She did not sue Paris Match, her employer, though they also published some of the pictures — her lawyer said that outlet had been more restrained in their framing of the photos.
2. Dominique Strauss-Kahn also sued.
After Closer reported in June that Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife Anne Sinclair had kicked him out of their apartment and was seeking a divorce, their lawyers announced that they would sue. Sinclair later acknowledged that the couple had separated.
3. It ran bikini photos of then-French presidential candidate Segolene Royal.
In 2009, Closer published photos of Segolene Royal, then a frontrunner for the French presidency (she lost to Nicolas Sarkozy) and the partner of Francois Hollande (they’re broken up now that he’s with Trierweiler). Paris Match declined to publish the photos, saying they looked too perfect, as though Royal was hoping to be photographed. But Closer editor Laurence Pieau said, “We chose to publish this photograph because in this photo she represents ‘Madame Tout-le-Monde’” — Mrs. Everywoman.
4. The editor is getting personal attacks.
Laurence Pieau responded right away to criticism of the Kate Middleton photos by claiming they were “not shocking.” Dissatisfied with this, Helen Lewis of New Statesman shot back that if topless pictures are so unimportant, perhaps Pieau should publish some of herself: “You don’t need to give any more interviews: let your nipples do the talking.” And a parody Twitter account established in Pieau’s name has as its bio, “I am a female stripper.” Her actual Twitter account appears to have just one tweet. Some tweets from the fake account:
5. It’s not affiliated with British “Closer.”
There’s also a Closer in Britain, and Kate defenders have apparently been directing their ire at this magazine too. But while British and French Closer used to be owned by the same company, the French magazine was sold in 2006 (more on that below). To make everything extra-clear, Closer UK has issued a statement titled, “Our outrage over publication of topless pictures of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.” Editor Lisa Burrow writes, “we feel these pictures are intrusive and an invasion of the Duchess’ privacy and are appalled that they were published. We would like to reassure our loyal readers that we have not and would never publish these pictures.”
6. It’s owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter.
Closer’s parent company Mondadori is run by Marina Berlusconi, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter by his first wife. She has defended the magazine’s publication of the Kate Middleton photos as an exercise of editorial freedom — she said Mondadori “uses in the best way possible this freedom and this independence that shareholders have always recognised. On this occasion as in others, Mondadori has confined itself to doing its job.” Berlusconi also defended her father back when he was accused of having an affair with an eighteen-year-old (one of the many scandalous things he’s been accused of): “To insult my father is to insult me.”
7. Its brother magazine, “Chi,” also claims to have published the last photos of Princess Diana.
Chi, which also published the Kate Middleton topless photos, is a Mondadori property in Italy. It claimed to have run the last photos ever of Diana alive, shots of her being given oxygen after the car crash that would kill her. At the time, Chi’s editor said, “I published the picture for a very simple reason — it has never been seen before. In my opinion, it is not a picture which is offensive to the memory of Princess Diana. I found it rather tender and touching.” Which sounds a lot like Closer editor Laurence Pieau’s claim that the Middleton photos are “full of joy. They are not degrading.” The subject is less sinister, but press harassment of Diana, and her death after a chase by paparazzi, may have influenced the royal family’s decision to take the Closer photographs seriously.
8. It also publishes a lot of fluff (sometimes literally).
Much of Closer’s content isn’t scandalous at all. Like the above slideshow starring Kim Kardashian’s new kitten and titled, “Mini Cats and Dogs: The New It Bags Of The Stars” (subhead: “Kim Kardashian has abandoned her Birkin for an all-white kitten”). Other recent subjects of discussion include Eva Longoria wearing a white tuxedo jacket and Courtney Cox becoming the face of Pantene. It may publish invasive paparazzi shots that American magazines wouldn’t touch, but in general, it’s much like any American gossip weekly.